Australia is vast. A map of Australia placed over a map of Europe puts Perth in Spain, Darwin in Norway, Sydney in Turkey and Cairns a few kilometres outside Moscow. It’s big. It’s also terrifyingly dangerous.
Before the Aboriginals arrived around 42,000 years ago, the continent was left to its own devices and spent its time evolving sociopathic spiders, plants that carried knives, and snakes that could travel at light-speed, which might go some way to explaining why the Aboriginals decided to live in harmony with their new surroundings rather than challenge it to a fight.
In 1788, the British announced their arrival by stabbing Australia in the beach with a flag pole. Gunpowder obviously helped in the fight they’d picked with the locals, but their fondness for wearing boots would have given them a definite advantage when Australia replied by trying to bite them on the ankle.
One evening, having a beer in the roof-top bar of a Kings Cross hostel, a young Dutch backpacker announced how much he’d enjoyed “trekking barefoot through the Blue Mountains” and the Aussie girl behind the bar almost fainted. So if you want to avoid being posted home in a jiffy bag, should you be packing sunscreen, or a hazmat suit?
Fortunately I have a few Aussie mates, expats and well-travelled friends we can call on for advice, so allow me to introduce Amy, Dolly, Fabian, Gareth, Monika and Nick: my panel of experts on all things Antipodean who have come up with a very handy A-Z of things we should be aware of before leaving the relative safety of the airport.
Introduction | A-F | G-L | M-S | T-Z